If you’re a rideshare driver – whether it’s for Uber, Lyft, or another taxiing company – tips are your livelihood. This is how life is as an independent contractor. Simply taking people from point A to point B won’t cut it; to be successful and earn more money, you need to take your game to the next level.
But how do you succeed at being an Uber or Lyft driver? In no particular order, here are 21 tips, tricks, and helpful driving hacks to ensure your passengers hit that “tip your driver” button.
1. Create an Inviting Cabin (aka. Provide Freebies)
The single best way to make more tips is to create a super-deluxe experience for riders. By providing some free goodies, you can potentially earn $100 or more, on average, each month. Doing this takes time and some spare change, but it’s worth it in the long run. You’ll want to provide free water bottles, some mints, maybe a snack. Don’t forget the USB charging cable connected to a USB charging port, available on most late-model vehicles found at our Kansas City-area used car lot.
2. Borrow Ideas from Other Drivers
To be a driver, you must first be a rider. As a passenger, you can make note of positive and negative experiences from the back seat. Copy things you really like, and be sure not to duplicate the negatives. Additionally, you can ask drivers questions about how they work, what they found to be most helpful when they started, and anything else on your mind. Get the info straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.
3. Take a Driving Class
Even if you’ve been driving for decades, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on the basics. (And if your new to being behind the wheel, a driving class is hugely beneficial.)
Search for local driving courses near you to see what’s available. In Kansas City, for example, there are several training schools and courses available, including Learn 2 Drive and A+ Missouri Driving Instruction.
4. Buy a Dashcam
Will a dashboard camera help you make more tips? Not necessarily, but it will help your case if an unruly passenger damages your vehicle, rates you poorly, or fraudulently reports you for a violation. In these situations, you’ll want a dash camera that records inside and outside.
5. Stay Educated on Auto Insurance
Car insurance can be a tricky subject to nail down. You don’t need to be a master, but you should understand the various types of insurance coverages and how to handle a situation in which you’ve been in an accident. Who’s liable? What should you say after the wreck? Do you have the right deductible? The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be.
6. Get Auto Insurance Quotes Often
Additionally, you’ll want to request auto insurance quotes on a regular basis. You’re going to be driving a lot, and insurance premiums may change as your vehicle ages and accrues miles. A new insurance company may be able to offer you a better rate than your current one in January, but by October, your previous insurer could be cheaper.
Several auto insurance agencies now offer rideshare insurance, too. It’s best to ask your agent for details and availability.
7. Everyone’s Your Friend
Treat everyone with the Golden Rule in mind. Life’s meant to be enjoyed, after all, and you’ll earn tips just by keeping a smile.
8. Be a Tour Guide
As you make small talk, you may discover that your passengers are out-of-towners who don’t know downtown from a hole in the ground. Here’s your chance to offer a few recommendations and expert-level analysis of the best places to visit. Suggest some good restaurants or bars. Let them know of any weekend events that might be of interest.
A few dozen of these interactions will surely improve your star rating—and your earned tips.
9. Drive During Personal Power Zones and Uber Surge Pricing
Lyft’s Personal Power Zones (previously Prime Time) and Uber’s Surge Pricing are great ways to boost your earnings as a driver. When passenger demand rises, so too do rates. In turn, that means more money in your pocket. Take advantage of these situations when you’re able.
But don’t waste your time driving to a busy location. If you aren’t able to be in these primetime areas within 10 minutes, you risk wasting precious time and fuel only to discover the demand has been met.
10. Stay in the City
Suburban riders need to get places, too; but someone else can pick them up. The best place to earn tips and get more fares is in the heart of the city. In Kansas City, for instance, the busiest parts of town are areas like the P&L Live District and around the Sprint Center.
If you must drop a passenger off in the suburbs, be sure to pick up a nearby passenger that’s going back to the busy areas. Efficiency is key!
11. Make a Route & Stick to it
Know where you’re going and how to get there. This will alleviate your and your passengers’ stress considerably. And the best way to figure out an area is to drive it a lot. Start by focusing on a few blocks—understand the ins and outs, the one-way streets, the traffic lights. After a few nights or weeks, branch out, block by block, until you’re covering a good mile or two.
12. Make a Schedule & Stick to it
Similarly, you should be creating a work schedule and being diligent to adhere to it. Consider it a full-time job in which your car is a cubicle and your steering wheel is a keyboard. Punch in on time. Clock out on time. Take your lunch break. Repetition is the most effective way to ensure work.
13. Know Your Bathrooms
Don’t pull a Dumb and Dumber—get to know your public restrooms and choose some of your favorite places to do your business. Using these restrooms instead of driving around saves time, which, as you know, saves money.
14. Decline Riders
If you notice a request from a nearby rider that will have you trekking across town, don’t hesitate to pass on it. It could be more lucrative to stay in the busy portions of the city.
15. Consider Refinancing Auto Loans Every Year
Did you know that you can refinance car loans to reduce your monthly payment and interest rates? This is especially useful if you took out a loan and have since improved your credit score. You can potentially save thousands a year just by refinancing your used car at a dealership. If you need help with refinancing a car loan in Kansas City, reach out to any of our staff members.
16. Park While You Wait
If you park, they will come. Don’t drive circles around town in search of a fare. You’re using gas, adding more wear and tear to your vehicle, and potentially missing a passenger that would have been near you to begin with.
17. Pack a Lunch
While it may sound nice, grabbing a burger at a fast-food joint or eating at sit-down restaurant nibbles at your earnings. A packed lunch, whether it’s leftovers or a PB&J, can save you literally thousands of dollars a year.
18. Monitor How Many Other Drivers are in Your Zone
Log into the passenger app to see how many other drivers are nearby. You don’t always want to follow the crowd, so find a better spot to wait for a rider if there are several other drivers pecking about like the annoying seagulls they are.
19. Sleep Well
A full 8-hour snooze is particularly important if you plan on working full-time as a rideshare driver. Poor sleep contributes to an increase in auto accidents in non-rideshare drivers; what do you think it would do to someone who drives hundreds of miles each day?
20. Take a Break
No one likes a grumpy Gus. Working nonstop is incredibly stressful, and as you sit for the majority of your day, it can also be detrimental to your physical health. Stretch your legs every once in a while, and get that blood circulating. A 15-minute break can give you enough energy to power through another hour of driving.
21. Keep Receipts
Every item you purchase while at work may be deducted come tax time. Save your receipts by taking pictures with your phone, if needed. This includes receipts for fuel, snacks, those “freebies” you hand out to passengers, and all purchased car accessories.
22. Have a First-Aid Kit Available
The health and safety of your passengers should be at the top of your list. If you have a first-aid kit on hand, and someone is in need of it, you could very well be a lifesaver.
23. Keep a Roadside Emergency Kit in the Trunk
You never know when a flat tire will put you out of commission. You can wait for roadside assistance to help, sure, but what’s the fun in that? Learn to change a tire and have an emergency kit available to ensure your safety out on the road. Downtime equals lost earnings.
24. Be Diligent About Maintenance
You’re going to drive your car a ton. That will put wear and tear on it, which reduces its lifespan significantly. In a year, the average Uber or Lyft driver will drive over 50,000 miles—well over the mileage restriction of a three-year lease. The best way to combat the early death of your car is to keep up with routine maintenance. This includes very regular oil changes, about once per month, tire rotations, brake replacements, and just about any other work your dealer’s service center can perform.
If you need to schedule service for your rideshare vehicle in Kansas City, visit McCarthy Pre-Owned Supercenter.
25. Buy a Good Phone Mount
By now you probably realize how important it is to drive undistracted. Instead of fiddling around with your phone, mount it for easy viewing. Some phone mounts even come with built-in wireless charging, so you won’t need to connect a cable to your phone. No more missed turns for you, my friend.
26. Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
Get your car cleaned, outside and inside, at least once per week. During the winter, long-time rideshare drivers even recommend cleaning the car every night; snow, road salt, and carpet don’t mesh well. Don’t be the driver with a smelly car!
27. Create Several Playlists
Have a music playlist for just about every genre ready to go. You can even pay for subscription services like SiriusXM, Spotify, or Pandora to stream any genre of music nonstop. Ask your passenger what they prefer. If they don’t prefer anything, The Beatles it’ll be.
28. Add a “Tips Welcome” Decal to Your Window
A simple sticker decal on the rear window (facing in, of course) will remind riders that you live off tips. You can find these types of stickers online by checking out this nifty site called “google.com.”
29. Make the Trip Unique (in a Good Way)
Being unique is no small feat. If you need inspiration, read about Bob Weiser, a rideshare driver from Chi-town, who asked every one of his passengers to write a special message or quote in a notebook. As of 2016, Weiser has amassed over 800 entries from people across the world.
30. Have a Reliable Vehicle
Of course, you wouldn’t be eligible to become a rideshare driver if your vehicle wasn’t reliable; Lyft and Uber have very strict requirements when it comes to the types of vehicles that can be used. In some instances, your vehicle must be at most 10-years-old or newer. These restrictions depend on your city, so check with Lyft and Uber before you decide on a used vehicle to purchase.
Don’t forget to check out current used car specials in Kansas City to get a deal, too.
Now Delivering Used Cars in Kansas City for Free!
You’re providing convenience to your passengers. We’re providing convenience to you. By offering free delivery on all our used vehicles, we take care of all those silly logistics so you don’t have to. Free delivery is available to all customers within 100 miles of our Blue Springs store, including the areas of Kansas City and Lee’s Summit.
To learn more about our free used vehicle delivery service in Kansas City, contact McCarthy Pre-Owned Supercenter at 816-224-7500.